A Whistle Stop Tour of Samothrace

My hosts Mr George and Madam Stratoula arrived back from Alexandrouplis on the Adamantios Korais this morning. I know this because there is another plate of bright red pomegranates on the table outside my door. After breakfast, I handwash some clothes and hang them out to dry and as I do George comes to say hello. I thanked him for the fruit and asked how the operation on Stratoula’s legs had gone. All went well though her mobility is still a little impaired.

George tells me that at 4pm today, he will take me in the car to get some water. At first, it wasn’t clear what he meant but when he mentioned Therma, I figured that we would be collecting water from the hot springs. Excellent – another part of the island that I haven’t yet seen.

With only a couple of hours to kill it makes sense to stay in Kamariotissa. I had read that there was a tip a short distance from the port – not your everyday tourist attraction but I had read something on Tripadvisor that piqued my curiosity. The article said that a group of creative individuals had made a model of the Goddess Nike out of recycled items from the rubbish that had been dumped. It may not still be there but it would be a nice walk anyway.

I head down the hill and take a right along the back of the seafront tavernas. After ten minutes of walking the landscape became quite rural. There are just a couple of houses with carefully tended gardens on either side of the road. Further along I pass the odd smallholding, home to chickens and sheep. Mount Saos is looking unusually free of cloud cover today.

There is a sign saying Nike Statue so I’m definitely heading in the right direction. Once beyond this small hamlet, the dirt track opens out. Over to the left, I can see the tip. There’s no sign of the Recycled Nike Statue. I did read later that it had been bulldozed. It had originally been constructed by volunteers to raise awareness of the overuse of plastics and non-recyclable goods. Very admirable. It’s a shame their creativity hasn’t left any visible lasting legacy. It has been a nice walk anyway.

At 4pm George and Stratoula appear outside their front door, Madam Stratoula in her wheelchair. Once all loaded up we commence the drive out to Therma. After about 15km we turn off the coastal road and climb the hill for a short distance, stopping at the edge of the village. Once the car is parked, George indicates for me to follow him whilst Stratoula waits in the car. He points out the two buildings next to each other – the old original spa building and the newer one. He beckons for me to follow him to the old thermal bath which now appears semi-derelict though the thermal waters still run through it. I’m always amazed to see thermal waters bubbling up through the earth and I can vouch for their healing powers too.

Next George shows me where he collects the drinking water from. He disconnects a pipe from a well, fills his plastic bottle and then offers it to me to try. Mmmm – a bit like an alkaseltzer!

We’re now in the car again but instead of driving back onto the coastal road, George takes a short diversion up a hill to the left. At first, it looks like an empty patch of land but when I get out of the car I can see built into the hillside are several outdoor thermal baths. They are connected by stone paths and I would imagine have varying degrees of heat. What an incredible place to enjoy a thermal bath, nestled up on the hillside overlooking the small harbour of Therma.

Before we head back home, George has one more place that he’d like to show me. Just further along the coastal road between Therma and Paleopolis, we take a left and park to the side of a small building. When I follow George around to the front I can see that it is a monument. It commemorates the place where the Apostle Paul first set foot on European soil – right here in Samothrace!

The dots are beginning to join up. Although all very unintentionally I’ve been tracing the footsteps of St Paul through this latter part of my journey in Kavala, Philippi and now Samothrace! The mosaic panels are a similar design to the monument that I’d seen in Kavala though the imagery is different. It tells the story of when St Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come to help. It then depicts him setting sail to Samothrace and Kavala and delivering his teachings to the people, converting them to Christianity along the way.

Once back in the car, George drives us up to Chora and back down to Kamariotissa. This whistle-stop tour has given me the impetus to hire a car tomorrow so that I can spend just a little bit more time exploring as I only have two more days left on the island.

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